Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Delaware
Appeal from the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 12CRI020063
CAROL HAMILTON O'BRIEN DELAWARE CO. PROSECUTOR GREGORY A. TAPOCSI For Plaintiff-Appellee
ROBERT ALAN BRENNER For Defendant-Appellant
Hon. William B. Hoffman, P.J. Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, J. Hon. Craig R. Baldwin, J.
(¶1} Appellant Felix A. Maurent appeals from the decisions of the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas overruling his Motions to Suppress and convicting and sentencing him upon nine criminal offenses. Appellee is the state of Ohio.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The Victim is Embroiled in Litigation with Andrew Levine
(¶2} Kevin Davidsen met Andrew Levine in late 2002 or early 2003 through his employment at the time with Johnson & Johnson. Davidsen and Levine became friends and decided to embark upon a real estate venture in which they built high-end homes in desirable vacation destinations. Davidsen and his father provided investment capital and Levine coordinated the contractors and details of the projects.
(¶3} Davidsen and Levine bought a lot in Crestview, Colorado and built a high-end ski-in, ski-out home. After the home was completed it burned down in a fire that was determined to be arson. Levine was supposed to be working with insurance companies and handling the business details but Davidsen and his father couldn't get any response from him. Eventually, Davidsen and his father sued Levine. In the course of the lawsuit, they discovered Levine had taken out additional mortgages on the property and received insurance payouts they weren't told about. A sum of $300, 000 was held in escrow pending the outcome of the litigation.
Home Invasion: Victim is Ordered to Drop the Suit
(¶4} Davidsen lived with his wife and two young children in a subdivision on Upper Cambridge Way in Genoa Township, Delaware County, Ohio. At the time of these events, Davidsen's wife was nine months pregnant with their third child. On the evening of February 1, 2011, the Davidsens had plans to eat dinner at their neighbors' home a few houses away at 6:00 p.m. The weather was harsh that day; road conditions were snowy and icy, and later that night the power would go out for several hours.
(¶5} Shortly before 6:00 p.m. Davidsen was not yet home from work. And planned to meet his family at the neighbors' house. As she prepared to leave the house, Mrs. Davidsen went to the front door to turn on the porch light and was surprised when the doorbell rang. She looked outside and saw two men she didn't recognize, but no car or truck in her driveway. This struck her as "bizarre" because of the inclement weather. The men were not dressed appropriately and were wearing light jackets. Mrs. Davidsen described them as possibly Hispanic or light-skinned African-American males; one was taller than the other. Mrs. Davidsen did not answer the door and eventually the two men walked away. She went to an upstairs window and watched them walk down the street until they were out of view.
(¶6} Mrs. Davidsen proceeded to the garage and put her two children into the car just as her husband arrived home. Together the family went to the neighbors' house for dinner and stayed until about 8:00 p.m. Upon their return home, they watched T.V. for a few minutes before heading upstairs to put their kids to bed. Davidsen and his wife were in separate bedrooms reading to their children when someone rang the doorbell and pounded on their front door.
(¶7} Davidsen went downstairs while his wife and children remained upstairs. The front porch was illuminated and he could see two Hispanic males outside his front door, facing "sideways" away from the door. Davidsen asked "What do you want?" through the door, and one of the men replied, "We need to talk." Davidsen did not recognize the men and was suspicious: his wife had mentioned the two men from earlier, and now it was 8:45 p.m., dark, snowing, and even worse weather conditions.
(¶8} One of the two men did all of the talking and the other did not speak. The taller of the two, who seemed to be in charge, told Davidsen they needed to talk about the house next door which was in foreclosure. Davidsen said no, it was too late, and told the men to leave. He also picked up a cordless phone and walked upstairs to the first-level landing where his wife was standing. Davidsen called Dan George, the neighbor he had dinner with, and told him two strange men were at the door and something wasn't right. He asked George if he could come by and make sure everything was all right. George said he would head over. In the meantime, Mrs. Davidsen called 911 on a cell phone.
(¶9} The men began pounding on the door again. This time, the same one stated, "Let me in. I'm an agent and I need to speak to you." He told Davidsen to come to the window. Davidsen complied and looked out the window; the man flashed some kind of badge that Davidsen didn't see clearly. As the larger of the two men was repeatedly yelling for Davidsen to let him in, Mrs. Davidsen told him not to open the door. Then the man who had not spoken showed Davidsen a gun.
(¶10} Davidsen decided to open the door, afraid the men might try to shoot through it, believing police and a neighbor were presumably on their way. The larger man still did all the talking, ordering Davidsen to get down on the floor. Davidsen dropped to his hands and knees in the foyer. The two men stood over him, one pointing the gun and the other yelling at Davidsen, "Drop the [expletive] lawsuit. Release the [expletive] money or we'll kill you. You know what this is about." The front door was still open and Davidsen saw Dan George's vehicle pull into his driveway. The intruders then ordered Davidsen further into the house, forcing him into the kitchen.
(¶11} The larger man again ordered Davidsen to get down on the kitchen floor and continued yelling that if he didn't drop the lawsuit, they would kill him and his entire family. Davidsen heard George honking his car horn in the driveway. The intruders walked out of the kitchen, stepping on Davidsen's hand and puncturing his fingernail as they left. Davidsen remained on the floor for a moment, jumped up, and shut and locked the back door, then ran to the front door and signaled to Dan George that he was O.K. and the intruders were gone. Davidsen ran upstairs to check on his family, still hiding in a bedroom closet. Mrs. Davidsen was still on the phone with 911 and advised that police were on the way.
(¶12} Police arrived soon thereafter and checked the entire house and surrounding area. They were unable to locate the intruders that night. Davidsen cooperated fully with the investigation and provided a detailed description of the speaking intruder, resulting in an accurate sketch of the perpetrator, later identified as appellant.
Victim Returns to Work to Discover More Threats
(¶13} Mrs. Davidsen gave birth to the couple's third child on February 10, 2011. Shortly thereafter, Davidsen returned to work after several weeks off due to the home invasion ordeal and the birth of his child. On his work voice mail, he discovered two separate messages that had been left the day after the home invasion. A man stated, "I told you yesterday to release the [expletive] money or I'll hunt you down and I'll hunt your family down. I know where your sister lives in South Boston. I know where your brother lives in the Boston suburbs. I know where your parents live in Arizona." Davidsen recognized the voice as that of the man who threatened him inside his house. The information about his family's whereabouts was also accurate.
Victim's Sister is Threatened in South Boston
(¶14} Gretchen Davidsen is Kevin's sister and lives in a condo in South Boston. On February 9, 2011, her doorbell buzzer rang and a male voice said "Tell your brother to release the money." Gretchen was taken aback and told the person he had the wrong number. The man said, "Tell your brother to do what I said." Gretchen replied, "My brother doesn't live here." The man answered, "I know. He lives in Ohio." Gretchen said she was going to call the police and the man threatened to smash her window. This conversation took place over her condo intercom and her view of the speaker was blocked by an awning. Gretchen was unaware of the home invasion at Kevin's house, but she called him immediately to tell him about the conversation at her condo. Kevin then told her about the home invasion and told her to call the police right away. The Boston police never developed any suspects.
The Investigation Leads to Appellant's Cell Phone
(¶15} The Genoa Township (Ohio) Police Department initially had few leads in the case. Detective Michel Riehle was the lead investigator and spent the early days of the investigation checking area hotels and rental car agencies with no results. The key to the investigation was the link to Davidsen's business partner, Andrew Levine, whom Riehle knew was based on the East Coast but not in Ohio. In light of the threats that had been made referencing the lawsuit, Riehle asked the F.B.I. to assist in anticipation of out-of-state suspects.
(¶16} The voice mails left on Davidsen's work phone eventually led to the break in the case. Although the caller had pressed *67 and blocked his number for Caller ID purposes, Riehle was able to subpoena telephone records of the workplace and discover the number that made the two threatening calls: 201-898-1882. By simply performing a Google search on this telephone number, Riehle turned up the website for a private security firm and its president, Felix A. Maurent (appellant). Appellant's photo was prominently featured on the security firm's website and appellant was demonstrated to be the subscriber for this cell number.
(¶17} Riehle obtained more information on appellant, including his B.M.V. photo from New Jersey. This photo was eventually included in the array shown to Kevin Davidsen, who immediately selected appellant as the ...